Monday, April 26, 2010

Book Review of Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

The blurb:
When a beautiful lawyer from the prosecuting attorney's office Carolyn Polhemus, is brutally murdered, assistant prosecutor Rusty Sabich is entrusted with the case. But he and Carolyn were much more than colleagues, and zealous fellow prosecutor Tommy Molto becomes convinced that Sabich is guilty of the crime. Soon Rusty's passion for a woman who was not his wife has put everything he loves and values on trial -- including his own life -- in a story that lays bare a shocking world of betrayal, murder, and corruption. . . as well as the hidden depths of the human heart.

I first read Presumed Innocent almost fifteen years ago. I'd been thinking of going to law school and Presumed Innocent is on the list of books that many law schools send you the summer before you begin studying. I remember thinking that the book spent more time on legal technicalities than the other thrillers that I'd read. Reading Presumed Innocent with an eye to joining the profession gave it a certain air as well.

Now after years as an entirely different sort of lawyer, the detective work, legal technicalities and procedural law aspects continue to delight me. Though I've read the book and watched the movie and am vaguely aware that a twist is sure to come, Presumed Innocent draws me in as though it were completely new. Scott Turow's writing remains fresh and engaging.

Other reviewers have mentioned that the book has lost its impact for them, that they're not as impressed by it years later. I have a very different reaction to the book -- years later and after close to 15 years studying and practicing law, I find that Presumed Innocent has grown to be even more gripping and entertaining. Though you might have expected me to figure out the ending given that I'd read the book before and seen the movie, but the enjoyment comes from how Turow built up the suspense and described the trial. It's the execution of the concept that makes Presumed Innocent a legal thriller that will last for years to come. I'm very much looking forward to reading Turow's next book Innocent that comes out on May 4, 2010 -- next week!

ISBN-10: 0446676446 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (December 1, 2000), 512 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author, courtesy of Amazon: Scott Turow was born in Chicago in 1949. He graduated with high honors from Amherst College in 1970, receiving a fellowship to Stanford University Creative Writing Center which he attended from 1970 to 1972. From 1972 to 1975 Turow taught creative writing at Stanford. In 1975, he entered Harvard Law School, graduating with honors in 1978. From 1978 to 1986, he was an Assistant United States Attorney in Chicago, serving as lead prosecutor in several high-visibility federal trials investigating corruption in the Illinois judiciary. In 1995, in a major pro bono legal effort he won a reversal in the murder conviction of a man who had spent 11 years in prison, many of them on death row, for a crime another man confessed to.

Today, he is a partner in the Chicago office of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal an international law firm, where his practice centers on white-collar criminal litigation and involves representation of individuals and companies in all phases of criminal matters. Turow lives outside Chicago.

Thank you so much to Valerie and Hatchette Book Group for this review opportunity!

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